Vicki Wilson is already learning on the job after being appointed Fiji netball coach through to the 2019 World Cup.
The former Australian Diamonds captain filled the vacancy left by New Zealander Kate Carpenter, who quit as Pearls coach in December after 15 months in charge.
“There’s been a lot of discussion going on and I saw Fiji Netball advertise looking for a coach so I’ve been chatting to (Fiji Netball President) Wainikiti Bogidrau for quite some time now – what type of person she was looking for in a coach and the areas that she wanted the coach to be able to look after,” she said.
“The next thing you know I’m here and I’m absolutely thrilled that I’ve been given this opportunity to work with Fiji Netball and the Pearls and the Under 21 program…I think we’ve got some big plans and I’m looking forward to building the depth of players and just making people aware of what Fijian players can do.”
Wilson is a former head coach of the Queensland Firebirds in the ANZ Championship and most recently spent three years as an assistant coach of the Silver Ferns.
She admitted the set-up in Fiji is new to her but said she was learning quickly.
“Everyday that I’m here, every morning, every time that I meet someone I’ve always got lots of questions and asking what happens here and why do we do this and that’s been really great,” she said.
“I’ve enjoyed meeting with the (Fiji National) Sports Commission and I will be working with their Development Officers to upskill them so that they can go out around Fiji and work with the villages and upskill people in the villages to make sure that every kid in the village is not only playing rugby but is also playing netball. With the terrific skills that the young kids have I think that just lays a great foundation for Fiji Netball’s future.”
The bulk of the Fiji Pearls squad play their netball at home but Wilson thinks the split in the Trans Tasman Championship could benefit players from Pacific.
“I think there’s opportunities with New Zealand with their elite competition with six teams and Australia having six teams so there’s 12 teams out looking for players and that’s one of the discussions that we’re having – promoting the girls to those teams – and I think if they can get an opportunity to run in any of those franchises would be fantastic,” she said.
“Just for them to be exposed to that constant training environment..that daily training environment is really really important and valuable.”
The Pearls don’t have any test matches scheduled for the remainder of 2016 but Wilson says they are in discussions with a range of countries about trying to secure some matches.
She will also be responsible for the Fiji Under 21 team, which will compete in Oceania Qualifying next month for the 2017 World Youth Cup in Botswana.